FSA Bombs Pro-Assad Election Rally
May 26, 2014 • 9:18AM

It may be hard for some to believe, but an election campaign is underway in war-torn Syria, in which Bashar al Assad is running for re-election. The date of the election is June 3 and there are campaign rallies going on in various, presumably government-held, areas of the country. One such rally was hit by a mortar shell in the Matar district of Daraa, in southern Syria. Opposition activists--who oppose the holding of an election almost sure to return President Bashar al Assad to power--told the Daily Star of Lebanon they fired the mortar shell at a campaign tent that reportedly killed 21 people (though some headlines put the toll as high as 39). Daraa Governor Khaled Hannus, speaking on state television, described the attack as a "massacre" and "a crime by terrorists meant to prevent Syrians from taking part in the presidential election."

Meanwhile, Assad’s forces continue to make gains in various parts of the country. The government has been pursuing a strategy of surrounding rebel held areas, placing them under siege, and then negotiating a truce to allow rebel forces to leave and humanitarian supplies for the besieged population to enter. The latest such truce comes in Waer, across the Orontes river from Homs. A local activist told AP that this latest truce went into effect on Friday (May 23) and lasts until Sunday night. The activist added that the rebel fighters are under pressure from the local civilian population--who fear deprivation and hunger-- to leave.